ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-123-2015

09 October 2015
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PHILIPPINES : Lumad leaders killed by paramilitary forces

ISSUES: Torture, Extrajudicial killings, Right to life, Threats and Intimidation
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned about the killing of three indigenous leaders in the community of Km.16, Barangay Diatagon Lianga, Surigao Del Sur. Paramilitary forces were threatening the civilian community, accusing the victims of being rebel New People’s Army members.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN))

On 1 September 2015, at 4 a.m., members of the paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group opened fire at Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo and a staff member of ALCADEV ( Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) Belen Itallo in the presence of community members in Km.16, Bgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Campos and Sinzo died instantly, while Itallo survived. The back of Campos ’s head was blown off; some witnesses believe the men used an M203 rifle to shoot him.

On the same morning, Emerito Samarca’s dead body was found in one of the classrooms in the ALCADEV school compound in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Samarca was the Executive Director of ALCADEV. His throat was slit open, with a cut spanning from ear to ear, and his face full of bruises and nearly unrecognizable.

Samarca was last seen by community members tied around the neck, hands and feet, after the paramilitary personnel detained him in one of the classrooms. One community member who initially accompanied Samarca was forced to flee after being beaten.

By the evening of 31 August 2015, ALCADEV faculty members and most of the residents were already in Km. 16. At around 4 a.m. on September 1, soldiers went from house to house and ordered residents to leave their houses and proceed to the community centre.

Campos , Sinzo and Itallo, at the house of Josephine Pagalan, were ordered to sit at the foot of the stairs. Pagalan is spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga or Organization of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Caraga).

Some members of the paramilitary group accused Itallo of being seen in the company of the New People’s Army (NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party) in the mountains. Itallo, crippled by polio since childhood, showed them her feet and reasoned that it is not true as she has difficulty in walking. The armed men ordered Itallo to sit beside Campos . The community members were then ordered to “drop on the floor” by the paramilitary men. Immediately after, Bobby Tejero and Brother Loloy Tejero, known members of the paramilitary group, shot Campos in the head. Sinzo was also shot dead. Some 20 armed men fired indiscriminately around Campos , Sinzo and Itallo.

After this horrific incident, 307 families of about 2,000 individuals evacuated to Tandag City in fear. They brought with them the remains of Sinzo, Samarca and Campos .

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

On 30 August 2015, about 40 soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, Special Forces, and known members of the paramilitary group—who call themselves Magahat-Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group—occupied the function hall and parts of the ALCADEV school grounds in Sitio Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The previous day had been the commemoration of the school’s Foundation Day, and some visitors still remained in the school. These visitors saw for themselves the soldiers and members of the paramilitary group in the school grounds.

During the military and paramilitary encampment, elements of the 36th IBPA, 75th IBPA, SF, and members of the Bocales group threatened the school’s faculty members, staff, and the community members that they will be massacred, unless they leave in two days. Soldiers also asked community members of the whereabouts of Reynaldo Campos, ALCADEV coordinator; Norma Ampis, TRIFPSS executive director; Dionel Campos, MAPASU Chairperson; and, two other TRIFPSS teachers. The armed men also confiscated all cellphones and cameras.

The following day, on August 31, the community cooperative store of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) was burned down by the paramilitary group. The soldiers also fired indiscriminately around the community. The residents thus decided to go to the nearby community in Km. 16 for safety. In the late afternoon of the same day, half of the soldiers were seen leaving Han-ayan, going towards Km. 16.

As residents and teachers were leaving Han-ayan, 25 soldiers in full battle gear of the 75th IBPA and three to five members of the paramilitary group, remained in the community.

Since 2005, members of Mapasu and ALCADEV, who are active in the defense of Lumad ancestral lands against incursion by big business, have been victims of red tagging, trumped-up criminal charges, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and forced evacuation.

ALCADEV was established on 19 July 2004 as an alternative learning system designed to provide secondary education to indigenous youth -the Manobo, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa– who live in the mountains of Surigao del Norte and Sur, Agusan del Norte and Sur. ALCADEV was born out of the joint efforts of indigenous peoples organizations in the CARAGA region. MAPASU is a regional organization of indigenous people in Caraga and is well known for its strong stance against the intrusion of mining companies in their communities.

The paramilitary group of Marcos Bocales, called Task Force Gantangan during the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya, may have changed its name into Magahat-Bagani Force. Despite the change in name however, the group continues to be armed and used by the military to sow division and terror among the Manobo-Lumad, using the policy of divide-and-rule. In 2014 alone, the group, under the auspices of the 36th IBPA, was responsible for the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit; the burning of the vehicle of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur (KAMASS) – KMP; and, the burning of the cooperative store and school in Kabulohan, Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Kindly send letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting for their immediate intervention in this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteurs on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and human right defenders, calling for their intervention in these cases.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Lumad leaders killed by paramilitary forces

Name of the victim:
Emerito Samarca, 54 years old, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV)
Dionel Campos, Chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU or Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation
Bello Sinzo, member of MAPASU and resident of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur
Name of Alleged Perpetrator:
Elements of the 36th IB-PA under Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Akas
Elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces of the Philippine Army;
Elements of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces/Marcos Bocales group identified
Bobby Tejero and Loloy Tejero, among 18 others
Date of incident: September 1, 2015 at 4 a.m.
Place of Incident: ALCADEV compound in Han-ayan and Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon

I am writing to draw your attention to the case of Emerito Samarca, Bello Sinzo and Dionel Campos. These are the indigenous leaders who were to give future to the younger generation of their tribes. On 1 September 2015 at 4 a.m., the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s paramilitary group Magahat/Bagani Force/Marcos Bocales group opened fire at Dionel Campos and his cousin Bello Sinzo and a staff member of ALCADEV ( Aternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) Belen Itallo in the presence of the civilians in the community. The back of Campos ’s head was blown off, as some witnesses believed an M203 rifle was used to shoot him. Sinzo also died instantly when he was shot. Samarca was tortured first by the paramilitary group then they slashed his neck in one of the ALCADEV classrooms.

By the evening of 31 August 2015, ALCADEV faculty members and most of the residents were already in Km. 16. At around 4 a.m. on September 1, soldiers went from house to house and ordered residents to leave their houses and proceed to the community center.

Campos , Sinzo and Itallo, at the house of Josephine Pagalan, were ordered to sit at the foot of the stairs. Pagalan is spokesperson of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga or Organization of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Caraga).

Some members of the paramilitary group accused Itallo of being seen in the company of the New People’s Army (NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party) in the mountains. Itallo, crippled by polio since childhood, showed them her feet and reasoned that it is not true as she has difficulty in walking. The armed men ordered Itallo to sit beside Campos . The community members were then ordered to “drop on the floor” by the paramilitary men. Immediately after, Bobby Tejero and Brother Loloy Tejero, known members of the paramilitary group, shot Campos in the head. Sinzo was also shot dead. Some 20 armed men fired indiscriminately around Campos , Sinzo and Itallo.
Prior to this horrific incident, faculty members, staff and community members of ALCADEV received threats from the paramilitary group, saying they would be massacred unless they left the compound in two days.

The paramilitary group was accusing some of the civilians of being members of the New People’s Army or anti-government. Despite being told that there were no rebel members in the community, the soldiers insisted.

After this incident, 307 families of about 2,000 civilians evacuated due to fear of recurrence.
I urge you to ensure that impartial and adequate investigations are conducted into these killings, and that the perpetrators are tried for their crimes. I also urge you to take note of the continuing murder of civilians in places where there is a military presence, and ensure adequate security and protection to the relevant communities.
I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building , Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue , Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

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